I drove a white Mustang II to my senior prom. While my girlfriend and I were at the dance, we stopped to get our picture taken as a memento of the occasion. The photographer ushered us around the side of a great beast of a red Rolls Royce, neatly obscuring both me and my date in all our prom finery: her Gunnie Sax and my ruffled rental tux in matching powder blue. At least you could make out my powder blue top hat. Still, upon reflection, I couldn't help but notice that cars seemed to be a very big part of my senior prom experience.
The Mustang II came about as part of a carefully managed attempt to affect some cool into my school by a friend from down the street who had graduated the year before. He started off the year back in August by insisting that he take my senior photo for the yearbook. To his credit, he did a very nice job, even if the result looked a little like I had been photshopped into a Coors commercial. This turned out to be fine, since it tended to diffuse any attention that might otherwise have been used up on my adolescent visage. I remembered this kindness when prom time came around. I hoped that he would do me the favor of upgrading my ride, the copper-ish '72 Chevy Vega. That's because on the night of my prom, I wanted everything to be just right. Powder blue tuxedo included.
This is all to say that I completely understand my son's obsession with getting his car just right before his big night out. The night before his prom, he covered his car to keep the birds who nest in the tree right over our driveway from diminishing any of the elbow grease he had used to make his car, his pride and joy, shine. He spent the night before his prom mulling over whether or not he should take off the targa top for the evening. It made me think of the sunroof in that Mustang II. I remembered how important that car was to my night. He put the floor mats back into his car after an absence of several months. Trips to Smashburger with his buddies don't require floor mats. Or vacuuming the upholstery. Prom night will be different. It will be like something out of a Bruce Springsteen song. Someday, he'll look back on the pictures from this night and smile. Probably because he won't be wearing a powder blue tux and matching top hat.